I am re-posting this tribute I wrote for my mother on Mother's Day, 2010. Several friends and family members expressed interest in reading it, and I found that it did not show up in my archive. I have added a note at the bottom.
I'm sorry about the one note topic lately, dear regular readers. Tomorrow I promise some fresh air.
May 8, 2010
My Mother's Hands
I took these photos of my mother's hands over a year ago, planning to write her story. And as yet I haven't done it. I'm not sure why.
But it's Mother's Day. I will be spending it with her and three of my siblings and various assorted offspring of several generations. It will be a house full down in Winlock, WA, and fortunately the weather will allow the young ones to run off their energy outside.
My mother , Violet Hofstetter Norquist, was born December 28th, 1921. Those hand of hers, now wracked with arthritis, have milked cows, planted and picked crops, prepared many thousands on meals, and cradled seven babies of her own. She has outlived two children and her husband, with whom she celebrated more than 50 years of marriage. My father has been gone over 15 years now. Mom still lives alone in the house they moved to after they left the small farm where all of us kids were raised.
Mom grew up on a farm in the foothills of the Oregon Cascade mountains, overlooking the Willamette Valley. The oldest child, she became her father's farm hand, and as a result, she has always had a strong feeling for the land. She still tries to garden a bit. She just needs to feel that earth on her hands, and the company of growing things.
Early in her married life my father and she bought a small farm in the valley, where they lived for most of their 50 years together, and where we kids grew up, also learning to love the earth. We were not well off, and at times she struggled to put food on the table, but she always managed to keep us fed and clothed and safe, not to mention well behaved and motivated to always do our best.
Life was not easy for Mother, and sometimes it was just plain cruel. I was just a baby and my older sister was three when this happened.
Dad was away at Fort Lewis, in the Army, just before the end of WWII. Mom was chopping wood for the wood stove, our only source of heat, and the ax slipped. She grabbed a towel to wrap around what was left of her hand and made it to a neighbor's house to get help, all the time worrying about us left alone sleeping in the house. She had little use of the finger that was saved, which makes all she accomplished with those hands even more remarkable. I know it caused her pain, but she never complained.
She still doesn't. When we gather together on Mother's day, she will be in the middle of all the commotion, and she will love it, but she will also miss most of it. Just as her hands show the wear and tear of hard work, so do her hearing and eyesight and general mobility. It makes us sad that she is becoming so sensory deprived because she knows what she's missing. Her mind is still strong and her desire to be aware is demonstrated by the hours she pours over the newspaper each day with her hand held magnifying glass.
Our large family owes its existence to my mother. Our lives have literally been in her hands. We do what we can to support her, what she'll allow us to do. And yet her one regret is that she feels useless, that she can no longer give a helping hand to others. But she does still add great value to our lives and to the lives of all who know her. As my sister Laurie said so well, Mom still has a purpose far beyond what she realizes. It's the love she pours out to all of us whether it is when she is with us or the prayers she prays for us when we are not. All of our children and grandchildren love Grandma Violet and see her as a loving example.
We have a lot of good mothers in our family, but it would take a lifetime of effort to try to measure up to her.
Wishing you all a Happy Mother's Day, whether you are a Mother or are honoring your Mother, or are remembering a Mother in your thoughts, or all of the above.
In May of 2011 we moved Mom into assisted living near her home in Molalla, Oregon, where she continued to live surrounded by people she knew all of her life. Family made frequent visits to be with her.
Mother passed away peacefully November 2, 2011. On November 5th she was laid to rest and celebrated by many old friends and a large, loving family. Her spirit lives on in us.
how important to get her story down while she is still living and to honor her life...you have a good beginning in your blog today. happy mom's dayReplyDelete
What a lovely tribute to a beautiful lady. You are so lucky to still have her with you to celebrate, and even though she's losing her faculties, that's the way it is for all of us, and she has the fruits of her labors in you and yours. Thank you for sharing this story. I am proud to know her through your words.ReplyDelete
Beautiful post for the day, Linda! Thank you for sharing you Mother's story with us today! What a strong and lovely woman! Blessings on you both and have a lovely day!ReplyDelete
It was actually 1:46 AM last night/this morning when I published this post. I couldn't sleep. I gave up and turned on the computer to catch up on blog reading. I stopped by a few of your sites but then I was compelled to write what I had just not " gotten around to". I'm a bit sleep deprived this morning- still couldn't go to sleep when I went back to bed - but reading back over this I think I said some of what was in my heart and head.ReplyDelete
It's a glorious morning here in Seattle. With closures on I-5 south this morning we're planning a backwoods route to get to our celebration, surrounded by green below and blue above. Life is an adventure. Explore yours!
I enjoyed this post and hearing about your Mom...Have a wonderful Mothers Day Linda.....MichelleReplyDelete
What a wonderful tribute. Your mom is indeed remarkable.ReplyDelete
I was so moved by this very touching tribute to your mother. I wish you a wonderful day with your family and a Happy Mother's Day!ReplyDelete
Sweet story and very touching, too, Linda. Reminds me of my mother, who is 94.ReplyDelete
Oh Linda, this touches my heart. Her hand looks like it may still bother her, do you know if it does? It looks like she may have arthritus in it. Bless her heart.ReplyDelete
Oh my goodness, Linda. This is such an incredible post. I really need to get to sleep but I couldn't stop reading. What a beautiful tribute to your brave and wonderful mother. I'm so glad you wrote this for your children and grandchildren. Now you'll have to write more because her story is that compelling. What an amazing woman!ReplyDelete
Nice story, Linda. I wrote what was basically my mother's story last year and it turned into a 400+ page memoir. My siblings had all talked about writing her story but I was the one who finally had the time. I also took a 4 generation "hand" picture last year that was really special. It is a real gift to leave for the generations that follow to write the story of our lives. Good luck! Sounds like you have a great story to tell.ReplyDelete
A lovely tribute to your Mom Linda. I enjoyed reading it. Happy Mothers' Day to you all. - DaveReplyDelete
I was right I did cry and you said it well. We are because of her and she still has a purpose far beyond what she realizes, its the love she pours out to all of us whether it be when she is with us or the prayers she prays for us when we are not. All of our children and grandchildren love Grandma Violet and see her as a loving example. Thanks Sister to the Great Tribute to our Mom. LaurieReplyDelete
A wonderful tribute, thank you for sharing it with us.ReplyDelete
I felt this in my heart and through my mom's eyes. You are blessed, and so am I.ReplyDelete
Your mom is truly inspiring.
Thank you Linda, for sharing your Mom with me. I love her hands, and recall the beautiful fragile hands of my Grandma. I wish I had a picture.ReplyDelete
This is a heart warming tribute to your Mother, and it says a lot about you.
What a lovely tribute to your Mom Linda. Thanks for writing it and posting it on your blog. These are the important stories to tell.ReplyDelete
Beautiful .. and it reminded me of my Grandma, who also had many difficulties, and whose dear old hands it gave me great pleasure to massage when she was near the end. (I wish I'd thought of it earlier!)ReplyDelete
Just a wonderful blog, and a happy addition to those I've luckliy found on reccommendation from a dear friend.
So, so beautiful. Your Mom is gorgeous. You've written this so beautifully, it really touched my heart. :) PetraReplyDelete